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Bowery Graffiti Wall
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

New York City is the Street Art Capital of America

We're No. 1!

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Written by
Shaye Weaver
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New York City is considered the capital of many things—fashion, food, culture—but it's also the capital of street art, according to a new report.

Each city has its own flair that overflows on walls and overpasses as graffiti and street art, but New York City? It's the birthplace of street art. It came out of the 1970s, when the city was bankrupt and crime was rampant. Growing up in that environment, kids from the Bronx and Brooklyn tagged subway cars and buildings even though it was illegal and dangerous. Eventually, their new art form spread around the world and found its way into NYC galleries and museums in NYC.

Street art thrives, ironically as a sanctioned activity sponsored by business owners, community groups and even developers. But for some, it’s still imbued with the same panache and attitude that made it so compelling back in the day.

RECOMMENDED: The top spots to see graffiti and street art in NYC

Bushwick Graffiti
Photograph: Jorge Quinteros

And now, at least over the past 12 months, street art and its related search terms like "spray paint street art" and "mural," have seen a 170% increase in related Google searches, according to SINGULART, a contemporary online art gallery. 

And in a new report it released, New York is pretty much the capital of street art with 307,000 related social media engagements in the last three months, followed by Chicago (76,300) and Portland (57,200). SINGULART looked at hashtags such as #streetart, #urbanart, and #grafittiart.

The top 12 cities are as follows:

  1. New York City, New York - 307,000
  2. Chicago, Illinois - 76,300
  3. Portland, Oregon - 57,200
  4. San Francisco, California - 38,800
  5. Austin, Texas – 26,600
  6. San Diego, California - 26,600
  7. Washington, D.C - 15,300
  8. Boston, Massachusetts - 13,600
  9. Los Angeles, California - 11,900
  10. Charlotte, North Carolina - 6,930
  11. Ann Arbor, Michigan - 5,790
  12. Nashville, Tennessee - 5,680

NYC's street art-related social media engagements are 304% more than Chicago's at 76,300.

Street Art map by SINGULART
Photograph: courtesy SINGULART

"In recent years, street art has become much more accepted and appreciated as an art form, compared to when it first emerged in the 1970s and is often a huge form of expression for many," says Marion Sailhen, the head curator at SINGULART. "Artists such as Banksy, Vhils, and Kobra have really paved the way for the urban art movement and it’s great to see how they’ve inspired some of the artists on SINGULART."

It really is no surprise NYC has taken the top spot—Banksy has come to NYC and tagged walls here with pieces like "Hammer Boy" and there's incredible artwork across the boroughs such as the "Wall of Fame" in the Bronx and the entire Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn and the Welling Court Mural Project in Long Island City.

Check out our list of where to see NYC's best graffiti and street art

mural print
Photograph: courtesy Elle Street Art

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